We've been reading Farmer Boy, one of the books in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series. As much as I would have hated living in the era of hoop skirts and outhouses, I have to say that the kids of the time seemed to be so much more discliplined and polite than today's children. Additionally, they seemed to have a much better work ethic, spending hours a day helping with family chores. Of course, I sound like I'm blaming the times for my children's behavior. I know better than that. On the other hand, these are different times and I don't live on a farm (thank goodness, or we'd have some hungry animals and dying crops), so there are no cows to milk at 5am.
I thought I would have a little fun with the concept, though. Oftentimes, the little farmer boy, Almanzo would get out of school in order to help around the farm. Yesterday, I thought I'd give the lifestyle a whirl, and in an effort to disguise spring cleaning, I told the kids we would get a day off school today to get some things done. I did skip the waking up before dawn part because, well, this mama doesn't do before dawn.
I don't know if they fell for the trick or if they mistakenly assumed their mother would give them extra time on the Wii, but whatever the motivation, the kids began cleaning their rooms before I even asked them to. By the time I got to the boys' room, they had supposedly already accomplished the Big Task: the Toybox Purge. "Did you already empty the toybox?" I asked them.
"Yes," Michael assured me, "and we put it all away already."
"You mean you threw away the trash, put the stuff you want to give away in a pile, and then put the other stuff away, right?" I clarified. He confirmed. And then I looked in the toybox. Really? Are you kidding me? The toybox was full of JUNK. Literally. And trash. And socks and underwear and enough other miscellaneous articles of clothing to clothe another set of boys. (I have a feeling that the influx of random dirty laundry laying around is a direct result of my new Laundry Policy which states that Mom will no longer go on a Dirty Laundry Hunt before doing the laundry; she will only wash what is given to her. If the soccer uniform is still lying on the floor where you took it off, you will wear stinky clothes to the game; if the socks don't make it to the pile, wear flip flops; if you run out of underwear, go commando.)
"Are you SURE you cleaned out the toybox?" I asked again. They were sure. So I did the purge myself, which is actually what usually occurs. I mean, I love the idea of the kids acting responsible and helping out, but when I'm in Purge Mode, it's much easier without the supervision of my 4 little bosses who think they still need all of those broken McDonald's kids' meals toys.
The rest of the room was littered with as much junk as was crammed into the toybox. I was sure I would never finish. Just when I thought I was done, I would open a closet door. More junk. But it was finally done, and the boys actually did help out. Maybe not with as much gusto as little Almanzo who woke up in the middle of the night to help his family save the corn crop. But they helped.
Now if I could just get Audrey to clean her room. When I told her to go clean her room, she said, "I tan't!" Well, of course she can't. She is, after all, a Princess, and princesses certainly should not be expected to clean their rooms. Right?